Little looks to keep defence tight

Southern United goal keeper Liam Little throws a ball at training on Thursday night. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Southern United goal keeper Liam Little throws a ball at training on Thursday night. Photo: Gregor Richardson
A clean sheet against Auckland City was a great way to finish 2019.

Now Liam Little is hoping to chalk up a few more of those over the coming weeks.

The Southern United goal keeper made a superb late save to hold out the national football premiership leader in United’s last outing.

But it was only part of what he felt was a superb defensive performance.

The side scored plenty of goals over the first half of the season.

It had conceded a few more than usual as well, though.

Ensuring it remained solid at the back was something Little felt would be key as it returns to action against the Wellington Phoenix Reserves today in Wellington.

‘‘I think we need to concentrate on our defence the next few games,’’ the 33-year-old said.

‘‘I think we sort of let that slide for a few games.

‘‘We’re scoring lots of goals compared to last season and we’ve neglected the defensive side a little bit.

‘‘Against Auckland City we were spot on with defensive work and everyone was on the same page, which helps us get that clean sheet.’’

The side would be without star striker Joel Stevens, who has left for Sweden after scoring six goals in eight games.

That means less firepower, although there are plenty of other attacking options.

There is likely to be an element of rust across the league this week, the last games having been three weeks ago.

Little admitted he would rather keep playing without the break, although it was hard to do that if the league was being played over summer.

Southern still had several training sessions over the period, and while it was excited to play again, limiting the length of the rusty period in the game would be key.

‘‘I think there’s going to be a bit of scrappiness we need to shake off as well.

‘‘We haven’t really kicked a ball much over the couple of weeks, so it’ll take a bit of time.

‘‘But I think we just need to start well, hit the ground running if we can and put them under a bit of pressure.’’

The game was a hard one to prepare for tactically.

Being a reserve side, the Phoenix team can change drastically week-to-week.

However, Little said even if it was a young team it would still be a tough game, as the players were all very technically good footballers.

The game will also be Southern’s first televised game of the season.

Kick-off is at 1.45pm.

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